In what is believed to be a landmark ruling for the UK, the ASA has determined that the use of the term ‘biodegradable’ as used by Ancol Pet Products for their Refill Poop Bag Rolls ”is misleading and had not been substantiated”.
Whilst the specific ruling applies to plastics made with oxo degradable additives, it determines that the ASA “considered that consumers would understand the term ‘biodegradable’ to mean the capability of a product to disintegrate and decompose safely and relatively quickly in the open environment, leaving nothing behind.”
Further, the ASA consulted Defra, which in this case stated that the length of time for biodegradation to commence would be from two to five years and that this “was not in line with how consumers were likely to interpret the term ‘biodegradable’.”
BBIA always maintained that to use the definition ‘biodegradable’ there has to be a time and place within which this occurs. These are determined by international standards. For packaging these are the BS EN13432 and for plastics BS EN14995. BBIA Managing Director, David Newman said: “We welcome this ruling which for the first time provides clarity to the market. We believe the use of the term ‘biodegradable’ in consumer claims is both misleading and confusing and its use should be restricted as it has in places like Belgium and California. Packaging and plastics made to well established international standards should be further developed to support clean food waste collection and organic recycling.”
Producers of plastic packaging claiming biodegradability that do not adhere to these international standards are now forewarned.
The ASA sentence can be read in full on the ASA website.
For more information, please contact David Newman, BBIA Managing Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.